Times Shifting

Creative Writing in Extraordinary Times

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

We live in a time of great change.

Last year: no airplanes in the sky, nearly empty streets, birds singing where we never heard them before, faces behind windows looking out, people turning their heads away from each other when they meet.

This year: hopes of moving on or getting “back to normal”, memories of all kinds, changing ideas of how we might live our lives.

Doors are still closed on many of the things we were used to, but curious new doors are opening. Covid 19 began a process of alteration that is seemingly open-ended. Faced with the need to develop new ideas, humans are doing just that, and the world is changing yet again.

What will we remember about these times? How will our familiar ways of life have been altered? What will we want to keep? What will we wish to/choose to forget?

The Indian writer and social activist Arundhati Roy describes what is happening to the world as a rupture. She asks if it might be possible to …walk through it lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. This is a time of great richness for writers who source their inspirations from the world around them.

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

Although lockdown/quarantine/confinement means that we are limited in the places we can go and the people we can talk with in real life, we are not isolated. We connect with other people in virtual space.

In our shared imagination we can have access to the farthest corners of the web-connected world. The world becomes a place of collective dreaming.

Sharing visions

Times Shifting is a project that brings together young writers living in very different places to explore corners of the living history of our time. By observing, recording, noting, collecting, thinking and writing about what is currently happening in their changed and changing individual worlds, and then by sharing the results of all of this, we hope to create a collective and creative archive of this time. In future years perhaps it can be a resource to help understand what has been happening in these times. Using an exploration of creative writing, we allow young citizens to develop their creative and idiosyncratic take on their changing world.

Truth is stranger than fiction they say! Just look around the world and see how true this really is…..

Our Ambition

Times Shifting begins as a unique, shared, and mentored archive of events happening now in ordinary lives across the world. A collective picture of the world affected by Covid-19 will be compiled by a team of writers, historians and thinkers between the ages of 15 and 24. This archive of living history will then become a source of dreaming about how the world of today might be seen in the future. Times Shifting will explore the writing of a work of Historical Fiction based on the sharing of living details of life during of this time when all our lives are changing. This programme of exploration honours the memory of the founding genius of Historical Fiction, Sir Walter Scott, in his desire to look into the details of history to draw out the learning for future years.

Collecting, Connecting, Active thinking

Wherever you live in the world, if you enjoy exploring your writing in English, we invite you to write to us and tell us why you would like to get involved with Times Shifting. We work with small groups of writers, who meet regularly online and exchange ideas, observations and writings.

Times Shifters engage in collecting – sending their senses out into the world to gather everyday information from as many corners of life as they can find. This process of active thinking is then turned into the primary resource for your creativity.

Sign up and begin your journey

When you sign up to Times Shifting, you will become part of a group of writers who are passionate about their writing, and passionate about writing that connects to the world we are living in now and that speculates about how we might be living in years to come.

We will challenge your thinking and ask you to bring all the skills and knowledge that you have already built up. We will uncover skills that you didn’t know you had and take your writing into a whole different world of ideas and visions.

If you are interested in stretching your writing muscles and reaching out into unexplored territory, send us a short introduction to yourself and your writing. Tell us why you might enjoy being part of Times Shifting.

Leaving Traces

It is important that Times Shifting leaves a trace, not only because focus on a creative goal is highly satisfying, but also because history is moving on at pace and we feel that it is important to capture and celebrate our creative responses to the historical moment.

An anthology of writings from Times Shifting 1 was published in March 2021. Submissions for the anthology were mentored by Elizabeth Ferretti and each of the contributors also submitted a reflective introduction, observing their writing during lockdown. No restrictions were placed on the genre or format of the writing.

Copies are available for £5 plus postage and packing by contacting us here

An online exhibition in collaboration with The Young Norfolk Arts Festival, devised by Times Shifting participants. Unfortunately, COVID-related reasons sadly caused this is to be postponed.


All the material collected, shared and written has been kept. As time moves on it is important to keep these archives. We believe that this could be useful to writers and researchers in the future who want to find out how the people of this time in history were really thinking.

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

To let our minds go questioning afar,

Not to fear what we don’t understand,

And make our own creations.

Judith Steel

Times Shifting is a project of the Imagining History Programme UK, under the umbrella of The Young Walter Scott Prize. It has been created by and will be guided by Alan Caig Wilson, (Director of YWSP/IHUK), Elizabeth Ferretti, (writer, journalist and Development Associate for IHUK), Dr Dina Gusejnova, (Assistant Professor in International History at the London School of Economics and History Advisor for IHUK) and Matilda Wormwood (independent curator, podcaster and bookseller)

When do we hold our workshops

Times Shifting is an online workshop programme. It is based around workshops held on Zoom, with thinking and writing tasks to be completed in individual time.

Times Shifting 1 consisted of workshops running through the early summer and summer of 2020, in part-collaboration with the Young Norfolk Arts Trust.

We are currently setting up Times Shifting 2 and we are looking forward to exploring the creative responses to the very different world that has developed around us.

What to do next

If you would like to be part of Times Shifting in the future, email TimesShifting@outlook.com telling us a little about yourself and why you would like to join this unique project. We will let you know as soon as possible when the next programme is planned to begin.

Important things

  • If you are under 18, we will also need to make a connection with an adult supporter. 
  • This project is set up and run as a closed, mentored group.
  • We do not ask you to share any sensitive personal details.
  • We will not publish anything without your agreement, or the agreement of an adult supporter if you are under 18. Your name will not be attached to any published material – unless you give your written permission.
  • You can pull out at any time and we will be very grateful for the input you will have made.

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